Advertising CEO Gay Gaddis is the author of the upcoming book, COWGIRL POWER (releasing 1/23/18). Here she shares insights into the process of writing your own book, what it’s like to own your own company, and why, more than ever, women need to develop personal power on all fronts.
Question: Your company, T3, is a top ranked innovation firm and one of the largest advertising agencies owned by a woman in the U.S. How did you find time to write a book?
Answer: I am CEO of T3 today and I have three primary responsibilities: staying in sync with our clients, building our management team and developing relationships with new clients. I spend about a third of my time traveling for the business, about a third in the office and a third on our ranch in the Texas Hill Country. I’m always connected, wicked fast on my iPad and always networking and multi-tasking. But, my time at the ranch is for chilling out and pursuing creative projects like writing and painting. We don’t allow many distractions. It’s heads-down hard work.
Question: Why did you decide to write COWGIRL POWER now?
Answer: I have been an advocate for women who want to pursue business careers for the past 20 years. Frankly, we haven’t seen all that much progress. I decided I did not have another second to wait, so I wrote the book to encourage women to find their own inner power, like the historic cowgirls I introduce in the book. They were tough characters and a few of them, like Annie Oakley, became the first international female superstars. The book explains the highs and lows that I experienced in building my business from the ground up and how I found my personal power one step at a time. I share tons of good advice I learned along the way. I believe we all have personal power inside each of us; we just need to discover and wield it. I finished the book about six months ago and recently, we have seen the issue of women’s power, or lack of it, take center stage in our national dialogue.
Question: Are you referring to all the sexual harassment of women in the news?
Answer: I am. Harassment has been the ignored elephant in the room for years. Too many leaders have swept it under the rug and now it has come back to bite them. Corporate boards are no longer going to tolerate these bad boys. We have to continue to teach our young women to build and use their personal power to push back against all that bullshit, and to support them when they do.
Question: Can you give us a few examples of personal power? How can writers find it and use it?
Answer: Sure. It can take many forms. For me, my secret weapon is humor. I can wield it like a sword and get away with saying all kinds of outrageous things. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the power that comes from empathy and intuition. I know very senior women who are quiet, awesome leaders because they have the gift of being the glue that binds diverse people together into high performing teams. I have a very senior woman who leads a big team at T3. When I asked her where she finds her motivation, she told me “I wake up every morning with curiosity.” I think that is the best advice I can give to writers.
Question: Any advice for aspiring writers looking to make New Year’s resolutions in 2018?
Answer: I write about things I’m passionate about. And, things I’m mad about. I’d encourage aspiring writers to pull either one of those two threads.
Question: If there was one author you could have coffee with, who would it be and why?
Answer: Mark Twain. One of my personal goals is to become a better storyteller. I’m pretty good today, but I want to be much better. I’d love to just listen to his stories and see the twinkle in his eye.